Clarkston Community Schools discusses strategic plan

By Megan Kelley
Clarkston News Editor
Clarkston Community Schools is still making progress on updating its strategic plan even with summer upon us. During its regularly scheduled meeting on June 10, Nancy Mahoney, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services and Staci Puzio, Director of Student Growth, Well-Being and Community Partnerships presented an update on the current state of the district’s new strategic plan.
The current strategic plan is set to finish in 2025, with this new plan carrying the district through 2030.
“We’ve had several presentations this year outlining the process as we were beginning to move forward with a new strategic plan throughout next year that will carry us through 2030,” said Superintendent Dr. Shawn Ryan. “We’re still in the midst of finishing our previous 2025 strategic plan. We had a lot of success this year, a lot of hard work by the entire team to continue to bring alive elements of this collaboration between our community, our board and our administration and staff of continuing to push Clarkston Schools forward.”
Mahoney began the presentation by reflecting on the district’s mission and vision statements.
“Our mission statement, as we continue to commit to create a learning environment for our students, our staff and our families, we strive to keep all challenged, healthy, engaged, feeling safe and supported,” said Mahoney. “Our vision statement is what we strive for. This is the true perfection that we’ve really leaned into each and every day and that is that we want our students to feel well prepared for a future that really excites them and they believe that they can achieve their dreams.”
Clarkston Schools’ strategic plan is made up of four color coded pillars of excellence: whole person development, foundational and academic skills, student-focused learning and future pathways.
“So our strategic plan is made up of four pillars of excellence. We’ve always color coded them. Whole person development is our purple (pillar), we have three goals within the whole person and then we have strategies within those goals. Foundational and academic skills, this is our green pillar, this is where we really lean into the academic piece and dispositions. And then student focused learning; looking at every student as an individual, their specific individual needs and how we can build success for all. And then future pathways in terms of what are kids interested in? What is their skill set and then how can we design an education to fulfill when they leave us that they’re ready?” Mahoney said.
According to Mahoney, this year, the district is focusing on two main areas for both elementary and secondary education: multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) and social-emotional learning (SEL).
At the elementary level, the district has embraced the MTSS process by launching an elementary MTSS handbook, implemented academic support such as skill gap instruction and extended opportunities for enrichment by using assessments to determine individual needs.
“This really defined tier one, tier two and tier three instruction. And so tier one is classroom instruction. It’s what our students receive every single day in every classroom. And when students are not successful with classroom instruction, they need added support and that’s when we build what’s called tier two. Tier two can be small groups within the classroom led by the teacher. They can also be a student that comes out with a certified teacher acting as an interventionist in math and literacy to receive small group direct instruction,” Mahoney said. “Kids that still struggle in those tier two interventions; we do have tier three, which is more of a one-on-one usually with an interventionist. This handbook really helped to define our roles for staff within the elementary division. It created more systemic processes and it built a common vocabulary.”
Subject Area Coordinators plan professional learning with data administrators on effective Professional Learning Communities.
“A professional learning community is a group of grade level teachers that come, we required, once a week for them to meet. Often it was with a coach, often even the principal joined that conversation,” Mahoney said. “When we think about focus around data, it really defines who our students are. Who’s in front of us and how do we instruct? The curriculum is what we do and then the instruction is how we meet their needs.”
The district has leaned into two Literary Resource Studies and has yet to make a final decision on if they will embrace a third this upcoming school year.
CCS is also on its second year of partnering with Oakland Schools for professional learning.
Lastly, when it comes to career-focused learning, the district has implemented career day, utilized Xello a college and career readiness software and used that to gauge student strengths and interest.
On a Social Emotional Learning level, the district has implemented emotional check-ins, movement opportunities, safe spot access and mindfulness/quiet time.
Staff have strived for consistency and documentation across the district in threat and risk assessments and continue to train additional staff.
“When you think about student safety, our threat and risk assessments, we continue to work together collaboratively, understanding what is the concern, how can we keep this consistent across the entire district? However, we have shared documentation, so if we need any information like that, we would have that,” Puzio said. “We did have two of our high school people go through some training so they could be trainers so that would allow us to be more responsive when we have new personnel come in that they can help lead some of that training with them specifically.”
The district has also entered into the statewide Handle With Care program which allows police to alert schools when a student should be “handled with care” in the wake of a potentially traumatic experience for the child.
Clarkston schools is also continuing a number of partnerships that have helped students emotionally such as the LaFontaine Pack of Dogs program that has helped get therapy dogs into classrooms.
The MTSS framework at the secondary level focuses on tier one instruction.
“We did focus highly on tier one instruction, this is classroom instruction at the secondary level. I know we did a board workshop on these four initiatives. We embraced FAME, which is our Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators; reading apprenticeship, that looked at literacy in all content areas; building thinking classrooms, this year (we) built structures of how we can create thinking within the classrooms; as well as restorative practices, which is creating the very best environment for our students to feel success,” Mahoney said.
CCS has also provided a clear agenda for professional learning led by subject area coordinators, implemented teacher and administrative labs and began working on a handbook.
Moving forward, the district plans to continue to expand its Career Readiness Leadership team to enhance the system around career readiness for students.
SEL on the secondary level is very similar to that of SEL on the elementary level with the same threat and risk assessment goals and several of the same community support systems/programs.
When it comes to restorative practices, the district has had about 10 staff go through training in the restorative practice.
“When we really think about the work that we’re doing there, it’s about balancing and creating a sense of community in each of the buildings as well as in each of the classrooms, as well as restoring relationships when something happens,” Puzio said.
The schools are also focusing on additional personnel supports like counselors at the middle school, junior high and high school as well as a general education social worker at the high school and positive behavior interventionists at the middle school and junior high.
Board Secretary Cheryl McGinnis spoke after the presentation to thank district staff as well as community partners for their continued support for the district and its students.
Additional information regarding the district’s new strategic plan, including timeline and committee members can be found online at
From August through December of this year, the team is expected to review research, finalize pillars and goals and hold full strategic plan team meetings.
Starting in January through May of next year, the team is planning to develop strategies, create a new strategic plan timeline and continue to hold full strategic plan team meetings.
More specific dates and information will come at a later date.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.